My son, Jake, just recently turned 13 and wanted to see a Giants game on his birthday. So, my husband and I took him, along with two friends and brother, on a trip north from where we live to do just that. Jake is big on preparation so I didnʼt think much about the request and then it dawned on me. In five years heʼll be off to college! Was that possible? I made a very conscience choice that I was going to be spending more time at home.
Iʼve spent most of my career in the Entertainment business. And for most of that time, I worked on daytime Soaps. So, that means most of the time, I had the most “normal” of acting careers. Soaps are the closest thing to a nine to five job. You get to stay in one location. Therefore, raising a family was very doable. Still, having a full time soap gig kept me busy. Occasionally, Iʼd venture out to do something on the side like a guest spot on a prime time show or start my first new media company. In 1996, long before my babies came along, I started Hands-On Multimedia. I produced my first on-line product…a CD-ROM, Soap Saver, a screen saver with some of my soap buddies. It, meaning the internet, was just getting fired up so it didnt go very far, but I knew I was in love with the web. And, it very likely set the stage for where I am now.
From 1999 to 2009, I lived in Springfield. A lovely little town found on CBSʼ Guiding Light. I loved my character of Olivia. Bossy. Wild. A Business Mongrel…uh, Mogel. Toward to end of the shows run, a wonderful actress, Jessica Leccia, and I were given the honor of telling a beautiful love story nicknamed Otalia. Two women who fight circumstances and end up in love. After the show was cancelled, I decided to revisit my past love, the internet, to explore what we could do to keep this magical journey going. “Venice” was launched December 4, 2009.
At the time, I was employed on Days of Our Lives, playing “Carly Manning”, a character Iʼd played nearly 17 years before. So, now I was working full time, starting an internet show and negotiating a marriage and family. “Venice” came together rather easily. I asked a friend to write, another to oversee information technology. I, once again, gathered my soap buddies to come play with me. Everyone was interested…enough to work gratis. We shot the first season in seven days. Twelve episodes approximately six minutes long because thatʼs what our research told us was the norm…that people wouldnt sit and watch longer. It was a hit! And a fail.
While people showed up to watch, our site wasnt prepared for the traffic and kept crashing. And when a digital media company/production company is asking people to plop down money to watch (We charge a $9.99 subscription), theyʼd better be able to do just that. Season Two started with a new crew, a new site, a quick education in
information technology and and IT team to help steer the ship. It was up to us to learn what needed to be learned OUTSIDE of production. And we were bound and determined.
My kids, however, had a severe dislike for “Venice”. Between DAYS and VENICE I was unavailable and it took a horrible toll on my family. In 2011, I wasnt asked to resign with DAYS and, like a directive from up above or wherever you get your directives, I knew my family would be the first order of business and Open Book was my future primary business. In 2012, we set out to diversify. We created The Grove, online mini feature, and shot our first musical event, Venice Virtual Cafe. We just completed Season 4 of Venice which will be available July/August. Weʼve recently been hired to produce our first outside project, Beacon Hill, for Bella Books. And, I cant stress this enough, because I CAN plan around my family, I work from home. I work around my boys. And that has made all the difference.
You know what they say…happy at home. Happy in Business.
CEO Open Book Productions
Crystal can currently be seen in the web series “The Inn.”